EVEREST EXPEDITION 1936.
Lot 380
EVEREST EXPEDITION 1936.
Sold for £4,560 (US$ 7,445) inc. premium

Lot Details
EVEREST EXPEDITION 1936.
THE AUTOGRAPH, ILLUSTRATED AND UNPUBLISHED DIARY OF THE EXPEDITION KEPT BY LT-COL. PETER RODERICK OLIVER, a member of the Expedition, the diary sent home in at least two sections (to judge from an enclosed note to his mother), covering the period 8 May to 16 June 1936 and incorporating eight drawings, reporting activities (and inactivity), progress up through the stage camps and the attempts at the North Col, giving snapshot opinions of his fellow climbers, providing some good descriptions, and noting the worsening weather conditions (the monsoon coming a month early) and its consequences for their attempt, 62 pages in all, octavo, from a numbered notebook (p.43 missing but text continuous), some marks from paperclips, loose, Mount Everest, 1936

Footnotes

  • '...Eric was leading. Just as he got well into the slope to the left of the Crevasse, and when Wyn was just leaving the shelter of the Crevasse, they heard a "...[?]..." and the slope started moving downwards. Eric was in the centre of the slope & could do nothing except try and keep on the surface of the avalanche (The slope broke up into hard pieces like an ice floe mixed with the underneath soft snow. One second there was a smooth hard slope and the next a rough slow moving torrent of snow). Wyn was only a yard or two from the edge of the avalanche. He jumped backwards & got clear just below the edge of the crevasse. There he dug his axe hilt deep into the snow, put the rope round it, & waited for the strain. The rope ran out twanging like a harp he said. (Seemingly the pull was quite irresistable). The strain came & began pulling out the axe. Then suddenly the avalanche stopped just where Wyn expected to be dragged down. He could see Eric at the edge of the avalanche debris on his back - the rope had nearly dragged him clear of the avalanche. Eric waved his hands & got up feebly. He couldn't talk for a bit for the presssure of the rope round his waist had winded him. At last he got out of the debris & back to Wyn. This was when we saw them first. They then descended gingerly. That is a case of Good Luck in mountaineering. If they had both been on the slope together anything might have happened. With a greater weight on it the avalanche might not have stopped where it did, just above the steeper slopes above ice cliffs. If the avalanche had gone on, in any case, it probably would have pulled Wyn after it as well. If there had been porters on the slope the weight of their greater numbers would have started a bigger avalanche and there would have been a repetition of the 1922 disaster over the ice cliffs below. [7 porters were killed in an Avalanche on N Col in 1922 - Mallory, Somevell, Norton escaped]. Again if the slope had gone on 5th when, Jim & I (or Edmund & Charles) were on the upper steeper part, then certainly it would have taken us over the cliffs...'

    In his The Valley of Flowers, 1938, the mountaineer and fellow-member of the 1936 Expedition, F.S. Smythe, gave a 'character' of Peter Oliver: 'I have accompanied Peter Oliver in the Alps and on Mount Everest. My most vivid memory is of climbing behind him while he cut or kicked steps up the slopes of the North Col in 1936. I remember thinking at the time that here was a man endowed with the physique and spirit of George Leigh-Mallory. There was the same restless force and fine attunement of the nervous senses to the work in hand, the same exercising of imaginative and artistic qualities, always a surer passport to success in mountaineering and exploration than brute force...Peter is a genuine lover of the mountains and on such the mountains confer their greatest gifts.'

    In the present diary Peter Oliver expresses a rather less favourable opinion of Smythe: '...Frank Smythe doesn't change much with knowledge. He has a pleasant character; rather nervous and highly strung, inclined to be pig headed on certain matters, much of an idealist & very gullible...'

    Lt-Col. Peter Roderick Oliver (1909-1945), an Indian Army officer seconded to the South Waziristan Scouts for the period 1933-1937, made his first ascents with E.H. Marriott in the Kanawa Kailas group and in 1930 and 1931 he visited the Dhaula Okar range. In 1932 he climbed in Switzerland; in 1933 and 1937 he attempted Dunagiri in the Garhwal Himalaya and also made an ascent of Trisul, the last of which was celebrated in Francis Younghusband's Everest: The Challenge. Oliver was also a member of the 1936 and 1937 Everest Expeditions. He was killed in action in Burma in 1945.
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